19 Ways to Get to Work on Time (and Generally be Better at Your Job)

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I don't know about you, but when I had to be at the office right at 8:00 am on the dot, it was always a struggle. And, as much as a I wanted to get to the office at 8 am every day (if not before) it was always something I had to constantly work hard at accomplishing. My persistent struggle with timeliness is not  something I'm happy to admit to but I've got to keep it real, folks. My Night Owl ways have haunted me for quite awhile; it's just the way I function.

I knew that if I wanted to be seen in a favorable light, and if I wanted any chance at getting ahead I had to make the effort to get my butt out of bed just the littlest bit early.

So, if you're looking ahead to a promotion, a review, or if you just generally want to kick things up a notch at your job, there are things you can do right now, yep, today! to increase your advancement potential. Luckily they're easy to implement and only a couple of them require that you get up earlier!

19 Ways to Get to Work on Time and Improve Your Job Performance…

1. Change Your Evening Routine

You may be set in your ways… going home each night, eating dinner, hanging out with the family, and then mindlessly playing on your phone or watching television until you realize exactly how late it is, again. Examine your habits so you cut out the mindless, time-sucking activity, and get yourself to bed at a reasonable hour each and every night.

2. Prep for Tomorrow, Today

If you tend to run late to the office morning after morning, you may have too much on your plate in the early hours. Work on preparing for the next day each night. Pack your lunch, select your clothing, and make as many preparations for the next day as possible to get out the door faster. Then, come morning you can coast out of the house on auto-pilot.

3. Keep Your Car Tuned

If you have to call in late to work a lot because your vehicle keeps breaking down, it could ruin your reputation for being reliable. Keep your tires, your oil, and your engine in good shape so you don’t have the headache of being late due to car troubles. And, if you're a bus-rider, like I was, be sure to catch a slightly earlier bus than the one that gets you there just in the nick-of-time because you just never know what you're going to have to contend with as a bus-rider. Here are some examples of things I've experienced on the bus as I've tried to get to work: lots of wheelchairs and strollers loading and unloading, detours, brawls, the bus breaking down, the bus getting hit or hitting someone (or something), or you might have a traffic accident to content with.

4. Forget the Convenience Stop

If you tend to stop every morning for a cup of coffee and some donuts (or a breakfast burrito) just like every other commuter, you can cut out all that waiting (and the major annual expense) by investing in a thermal mug to fill up at home. Keep a stash of handy breakfast snacks to bring on the road or wake up 30 minutes early to grab a healthier breakfast in your kitchen.

I love making a double-batch of blueberry baked oatmeal at the beginning of the week and then I just eat that each morning.

5. Get Right to Work

When you get to work in the morning, wave to your co-workers but hit the ground running. If you typically spend two hours socializing, and doing other non-valuable activities in the workplace before actually doing any work, revamp your schedule. Get to work and get on the important tasks of the day. While your co-workers might wonder what's up with your new-and-improved work ethic, your boss will totally appreciate it!

6. Self-Evaluate Your Performance

Before you attempt to get ahead, evaluate where you have been. You can't expect to be successful at getting a promotion (or a raise) if you are a mediocre worker. Be honest about what you’ve put into your job so far. You may find some areas that need improvement, and that's fine! Figure out what kind of training you need to get up to par and take advantage of any mentor programs that you can. You don't need to go shoutin' it from the roof-tops if you need to improve (not work-place appropriate and it could back-fire) but you can subtlety improve any areas that you find that you're deficient in.

7. Consider Your Direction

Many people work at jobs only for the paycheck. Make sure you know where you want to go and more importantly if your current job will keep you moving in the right direction. If your current job is not on your goal list, consider finding something new where you can get beyond more than just a paycheck. There's nothing worse than painfully waiting for each minute at work to pass.

8. Ramp Up the Positives

The workplace can definitely be stressful but do what you can to get (and maintain) a positive attitude. By doing so it can really help get to where you were you want to be. Be positive at work and find the positives that are worth working with. Try to avoid the office gossip and other negatives that can influence your work life. Avoid harping on the negative aspects of your job because that will just make them seem worse the more you drone on and on about them. If you're really struggling, try to find one new thing that you are grateful for each day about your job. A couple of examples: “Because of this job I'm not homeless”, “I'm ‘paying my dues'”, “This is only temporary”, “The vending machine has peanut M&M's”, or “My computer starts up quick”.

9. Analyze the Trends

For the industry you are in, it can be helpful to have the insider’s perspective on trends. Start reading industry publications and online resources to get familiar with what is going on. Most industries are progressively changing and if you are planning to stay on the career path, you owe it to yourself to know what is going on beyond your cubicle walls. Even better? Talk to people in your industry that you respect. Offer to take them out to lunch or coffee and pick their brains. While I typically don't advocate going out to eat or to coffee often this is one of those instances where the benefit outweighs the cost. The cost of a lunch is a solid (and relatively small) investment in your career.

10. Be Ready for More Responsibility

When you know you are ready but no one is asking you to take on more work, step up to the plate and ask. Speak with your supervisor about becoming involved in special projects or be extra helpful in a group situation. By taking on work, any work – not just the “glamorous” work – you're showing that you want to get ahead and that you really care.

11. Chat With the Boss

While many people actively avoid their boss like the plague, it may be worth your while to schedule a sit-down with her, and let her know that you're interested in moving forward. This is a good time to showcase the many contributions you have made throughout your time at the company, but don't make the mistake of making the conversation all about you and your wonderful talents. Let your boss get to know you a little better but be sure to keep your own ears open to see what you can learn.

12. Proffer Your Participation

When in meetings, be sure to participate. Don’t sit back and pretend to take notes. Get engaged in the conversation and offer up your two cents whenever possible.

13. Find a Mentor

Finding someone in the office or on the outside that does what you want to be doing can be a great way to learn the ropes. A mentor may be a co-worker, your boss, or an acquaintance. Your mentor can offer you direction, advice, and support because they understand what you are going through. They may also be able to offer networking opportunities for your own advancement but again, don't take advantage. Think, “What can I bring to this situation” and “How can I be of service here?”

14. Become a Mentor Yourself

If there are new employees around your office, step up and become a mentor for them. Your employer will likely appreciate that you're willing to take employees under your wing. By doing so you'll confirm your commitment to your job and your chosen career path.

15. Practice Better Communication

Some people are not naturally good at effective communication. This may be something that is holding you back on the job. Ask friends, family, and co-workers that you trust to evaluate your ability to communicate. It may be worth your time to take classes to learn better communication practices and techniques because if you can't effectively convey what your thoughts then you're at a severe disadvantage.

16. Work Smarter

Just because you stay in the office until late at night doesn’t mean you're working harder. The key to success is finding ways to work smarter and learn how to be more productive in each day. You may need to learn new skills to increase productivity and work more effectively every day. Eliminate those time-sucking activities that aren't advancing you or the workplace forward. Also, be careful about too much socializing. While socializing it great for networking, and while it does make work a lot more fun, it usually takes up way more time than we realize.

17. Know Your Limits

While you have to put forth the effort to get ahead, you need to know your limits. Going full steam ahead can lead to burn out. Be willing to go the extra mile but don’t push yourself over the edge trying to get ahead. Don’t forgo vacation days or the occasional mental health days to get the rest you need to recharge your batteries.

18. Get More Education

In some cases, advancement means more education. Check with your human resource department to see if your employer offers any financial assistance for going back to college. Find out where the seminars and conventions are that may help you earn more experience and gain more insight into your job and industry.

19. Resolve Conflicts Like a Grown Up

Because you spend so much time with coworkers in the office, conflicts are sure to come up. You need to handle them like adults and not resort to childish behavior. If a calm approach doesn’t work, go directly to your supervisor for mediation.

What tips do you have for getting to work on time and being better at your job? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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